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Advocates cannot be sued under Consumer Protection Act for professional negligence: Supreme Court


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New Delhi, May 14: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that advocates cannot be held liable under the Consumer Protection Act for deficiency of services.

A bench presided over by Justice Bela M Trivedi said that the very purpose and object of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 was to provide protection to consumers from unfair practices and unethical business practices only, adding that the legislature never intended to include professions or professionals under the statute.

“We have distinguished ‘profession’ from ‘business’ and ‘trade’. We have said that a profession would require advance education and training in some branch of learning or science. The nature of work is of skilled and specialised one, substantial part of which would be rather mental than manual…. a professional cannot be treated equally or at par with a businessman or a trader or a service provider of products or goods as contemplated in the Consumer Protection Act” said the bench, also comprising Justice Pankaj Mithal.

However, the Apex Court clarified that an advocate could be sued for professional negligence in an ordinary course of law.

Earlier in 2007, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC) had ruled that the services rendered by advocates fall under the purview of the Consumer Protection Act.

On appeal, the apex court, in an ad-interim order passed in April 2009, stayed the implementation of the NCDRC ruling during the pendency of the appeals.



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